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Etruscan bronzes, Amazonian civilization and excavation of Notre-Dame... The most remarkable discoveries of 2022


ARCHEOLOGY - From Roman Syria to the icy seas of Antarctica, an overview of some archaeological novelties that marked the past year.

A new

Indiana Jones

movie is due this year, but don't tell archaeologists.

Those still amused by Harrison Ford's antics will smile knowingly;

others will roll their eyes.

There is certainly a world or two between the adventurous saga and the reality of archaeological research.

The two, however, sometimes collide.

Finding lost cities or dazzling treasures still enamels the profession of researchers from the past.

A few days ago, the archaeologist Marie-Laure Thierry slipped on the subject of the sculpted triton of Néris-les-Bains that it was “

beautiful to say to oneself that the discoveries of importance have not all been made yet”.

Le Figaro

has selected five of the most remarkable of 2022.

The Etruscan bronzes of San Casciano dei Bagni

Excavated since 2020 by Italian archaeologists, the ancient sanctuary of San Casciano dei Bagni, in Tuscany, has yielded a fabulous treasure this year consisting of 24 Etruscan and Roman statuettes.

Dated to the 2nd century BC.

J.-C. in the 1st century of our era, these parts constituted a votive deposit, that is to say offerings offered to the deities of the site.

Apollo, Asclepius, Hygeia and perhaps also Isis were thus venerated in these sacred baths which still house a famous thermal site today.

Two antique bronze heads, exhumed from the excavation of San Casciano dei Bagni and covered, at the base of the neck, with Etruscan inscriptions.

Ministry of culture

The discovery is all the more significant as it offers rare new examples of Etruscan bronze sculpture, much less known than their terracotta statuary.

The Etruscan cities lost their independence in the 3rd century BC, which also increased the appetite of Etruscologists and epigraphists for this late set, as well as for its unpublished inscriptions.

Read alsoJordan: In Petra tourists reconnect with the remains of Antiquity

The mosaic of Rastan, in Roman Syria

Its tesserae depict characters from the Trojan War and the Amazonomachy, two themes of which the ancient arts were fond for nearly a millennium.

A mosaic from the 4th century AD, measuring 120 m2, was unearthed last fall in Syria, in the town of Rastane, about fifteen kilometers north of Homs.

Well preserved, and divided into two beautifully crafted panels, the figured mosaic constitutes, according to the Syrian archaeological authorities, the most important archaeological discovery made in the country since the beginning of the civil war.

Detail of the central medallion of one of the two panels of the Rastane mosaic.

Louai Beshara / AFP

Apart from the Homeric scenes and those representing the mythical war of the Amazons against the heroes of Greece, like Queen Hippolyte against Hercules, the pavement was also decorated with an important procession: that of Neptune and his 40 mistresses.

Casarab civilization, in the middle of the jungle

Not a year goes by without Lidar shots, an airborne laser detection system, highlighting some new wonder deep in the jungles of the Amazon - or in the forests of France.

In 2021, a new pyramid arose from the Mayan site of Tikal.

For 2022, this remote sensing tool has revealed two cities hidden under the forest cover of Llanos de Moxos, in northern Bolivia.

3D survey of the casarabe monuments identified on the so-called Cotoca 0 site, Heiko Prümers, German Archaeological Institute

Endowed in particular with important public monuments as well as a network of canals, these urban centers belonged to the pre-Columbian Casarabe civilization, which had developed in the south-west of the Amazon between the 5th and 15th centuries.

In other words, a form of occupation of space that undermines the hypothesis of a deserted and wild western Amazon, populated only by nomadic and pastoral tribes, in the manner of which was envisaged for the Casarabes.

Read alsoAn archaic temple of Poseidon discovered ten kilometers from Olympia

The medieval secrets of Notre-Dame de Paris

The announcement of the discovery, in the spring, of a medieval lead sarcophagus under the crossing of the transept of Notre-Dame amused more than one Internet user.

Was a vampire sleeping under the Gothic cathedral?

In the end, the excavation carried out by the National Institute for Preventive Archaeological Research (Inrap) unearthed two anthropomorphic sarcophagi in lead, and a dozen in plaster.

One of the two prestigious burials contained the remains of Canon Antoine de La Porte, who died in 1710.

One of the painted heads from the 13th century rood screen of Notre-Dame de Paris.

Denis Gliksman, Inrap

The archaeologists, who were able to excavate for two months this site usually inaccessible to their trowels, also unearthed striking carved decorations which had been buried alongside the various personalities of the heart of Notre-Dame.

This was the cathedral's polychrome rood screen, a monumental enclosure built in 1230 to separate the nave from the choir and destroyed under Louis XIV, due to changes in the liturgy.

The Endurance


, lost in Antarctica

In 1914, four years after Norwegian Roald Amundsen's South Pole expedition, British-Irish explorer Ernest Shackleton set sail aboard the


with a proud team and a clear goal in mind: to be the first to cross Antarctica.

The schooner finished, however, being trapped in the formidable pack ice of the Weddell Sea.

If the castaways manage to escape from this desert of ice and turn back to a whaling station, the


sank in 1915 under the icebergs.

Forgotten by all… Until its rediscovery in 2022.

The Endurance


was discovered in March 2022, more than a century after it sank off Antarctica.

Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust

The ship was found in March by the Endurance22 mission, led by the British association Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust.

It lay at a depth of 3008 meters, some six kilometers south of the location given by members of the Shackleton expedition.

And in a wonderfully enduring state of preservation.

Source: lefigaro

All news articles on 2023-01-16

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